Saturday, November 28, 2009

Moose in the Kitchen: Holiday Baking # 1

I just finished my first massive baking for the holidays and my feet are aching!! I started to work around 9pm - 4 hours and 16 eggs later, we've got 4 cheesecakes, a pan of blondies and a pan of brownies, meringue fingers and a burned and blistered index finger.

Haven't tried the cheesecakes yet, but they sure look prettier than last time. I had used one 9" spring form pan last time and the cake turned out too tall, so this time I split the batter between 2 9" round cake pan which also prevented the problem of soggy cake resulting from water leaking into the cake during baking. I have meant to decorate one for Mom's birthday, but I got distracted with the other stuff in the oven so it will have to wait until tomorrow. One of the mini ones I have reserved for Michelle, and the other for B. I hope they will enjoy it!!

The blondies came out perfect even though it's been a while since I've made them. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with loads of pecans and wonderful butter flavour, this is one of my favorite treats. And it was SO easy to make - melt butter, stir in sugar and vanilla, beat in eggs then add flour and baking powder - viola! It took under 10 minutes to put it together not including the 3o minutes it spends in the oven. As soon as they are all cooled off I will wrap them up for my dear friends - these are always a hit.

Having had numerous complaints of my baking being too sweet, I cut the sugar when I made the brownie batter. However, I must have made a mistake in calculation because I found the brownies not quite sweet enough for my taste. The original recipe called for 4 oz. of unsweetened chocolate and the same amount of semi-sweet chocolate plus 2 cups of sugar, but I had substituted with 6 oz. of unsweetened chocolate + 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate and also cut half a cup of sugar. I should have stuck with the whole 2 cups. Andy thought they were fine, but I am going to fix them up with a little bit of white chocolate drizzle. Plus, they look prettier that way!

Thanks to th
e handy KitchenAid stand mixer, I attempted to make meringue cookies because I have always wanted to try. It was a breeze to beat egge whites with the stand mixer - I love it!! I piped the meringue into finger length strips using the star tip and they turned out so pretty! It was so delicately light and crunchy that even Mom couldn't stop munching on them. The only trouble is they are so difficult to remove from the cookie sheet - I lined mine with foil as suggested by the recipe but many of them still broke while I was trying to remove them. Not that I minded too much because it gave me an excuse to pop yet another one in my mouth, but I also wanted to have enough to send to my friends. I wonder if I can triple or even quadruple this recipe.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sushi Tomato

Moose Reviews: Sushi Tomato

Being an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant with a lower-than-average price tag, Sushi Tomato @ Metro Square (Steeles & Warden) offered a decent variety of soft drinks and Japanese foods to choose from.

The servers were friendly, but they seem so busy all the time that it was hard to get their attention to order something. They also seem to have trouble getting the orders right - dishes would appear even though we have never ordered those particular items, some dishes we ordered never came, or they would give us something we ordered that already came. In the end, the ebi sushi (shrimp atop a ball of rice) never came, and the udon noodles only came after asking the server twice.
The food itself wasn't spectacular. The deep-fried capelin was mouth-burning hot being freshly fried and was the best hot dish they served. The tempura shrimps were not bad either. But everything else has gone wrong. The tempura veggies were not tempuras at all, being simply dipped into a regular batter before they were fried, and came out so greasy that we had exhausted the extra stack of 4-6 napkins in an attempt to blot out the oil. So were the grilled eggplants and enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon - way too greasy to stomach. The miso soup was overly salty. The teriyaki beef was disproportionately sized - one order was more than enough to share among the 6 of us.
Don't expect too much from the sushi bar either. The size of the piece of ika (squid) was not big enough to cover the tall rice ball underneath. The maki rolls were thick with rice but not enough fillings. The beef sashimi (thin slices of raw beef) came frozen. They didn't bother to thaw the butterfish sashimi either. The red-snapper sashmi was sliced too thin and lost its texture. The only thing they got right was the sake (salmon) sashimi, which they did not seem to want to supply enough of.
Price is right, but the quality of both food and service could use some improvements. Would I go again? Probably not. Even if we have to resort to all-you-can-eat sushi, there are much better ones in Markham for just a buck or two more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Badminton + Zumba = Aching Calves

I think I overdid it this week - badminton, zumba and then weights in 3 consecutive days. I cannot feel my legs as they have gone numb - especially my calves, which has been aching since Monday. I can only go down the stairs one step at a time now, and it doesn't help that there are stairs everywhere at work - to come into the building there are several steps before you get to the door, to get to my desk I have to climb a flight of stairs, to go to the bathroom I have to go down those stairs (and up again on the way back), to go to other departments we collaborate with I have to go down those stairs and up another set of stairs...

On Monday we skipped Body Combat because Michelle was gonna head out for wings, so I had the opportunity to play some badminton. Boy, was it intense!! Ususally we go to the session from 8pm to 10pm and because there are so many players and only so many courts, we have to take turns to play. Which means for every 15 minutes or so we would get to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. However, this Monday we went to the session from 6pm to 8pm, and there weren't any line-ups at all! We got to play for 2 hours straight and we didn't even have to share the court half the time. It was awesome and I felt great afterwards, except for the numbing pain in my calves and right shoulder the next morning.

Despite the muscle pains, I went to Zumba on Tuesday evening, thinking I've had enough rest. Plus, I really don't want to miss that class - it's one of the only things I really look forward to during the week (the others being Fridays and every other Thursday when the paycheck comes). I thought if it was too much I can always make it more tame, and if I really couldn't stand it I could leave half-way. Wrong! It was so much fun that I had almost forgotten that my legs were hurting, and only after I got home I had realized that my calves were aching even more!

I half limped to work on Wednesday and had to rely on a couple of advils to last through the rest of the day. The only times I left my desk was to grab some coffee in the morning and for lunch. Otherwise, I stayed put, trying to minimize any actions (like climbing stairs) that might further aggravate my aching calves. But since Michelle has missed Zumba on Tuesday, we had decided to meet up and work out. Really, I should have stayed home. My legs were hurting and I almost wanted to take the elevator to go up to the gym. But I wanted to keep Michelle company, since she hasn't even gone to the gym once this week and our goal was a minimium of twice per week. It wasn't a great workout though - I couldn't warm up before going to the weigh machines because it hurt too much to do the bike nor the treadmill. I could only work on my abs and lower back, and in less than 30 minutes we hit the showers. Sauna was nice though, and definitely helped releasing some stress and relieving the muscle pains. I love to be in the sauna. Especially when it's so cold outside.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Moose in Leather Jacket

Thanks to Andy and Michelle who accompanied me to Danier to exchange my white leather bomber for a more fitted and stylish black lambskin jacket - the one on the flyer that I've been eyeing but in black because black is so much more flattering and never goes out of style. I have had a hard time peeling it off because it's so comfy and chic!! And the weather these few days are just perfect for wearing leather jackets, so even if Andy suggested that I stick with jeans I'm going to try to pull it off with dress pants this week.

We had some time to kill before Andy got off work so we went shopping on the other side of the Heartland strip - Garage there has a pretty good sale going on!! Prices were already slashed and on top of that all red-tagged items were buy one get one free!! Sizes are quite limited and I had a harder time finding something that might fit, but Michelle who wears size 0 had plenty to choose from. I ended up with 4 tops for less than $20 - what a steal!! I just love finding deals and bargains and all the more when there's someone who shares the excitement!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goodlife = Good workout

Zumba was awesome last night - Goodlife is having an Open House (until Monday) and the gym was packed, but luckily we still had enough room to strut our stuff in the crowded studio. I just loved the music and have this tune stuck in my head now - I have to remember to ask Jewel what that song is called! For the second time in a row we've had about 15 minutes of street-style dance-off and I guess people must have been getting more comfortable with this idea because they were way more enthusiastic this time around and really showed off what they've got. It was hilarious to watch and so much fun to do. And what a good work-out - my hips and thighs are aching but it felt so good!

Tonight we are going to take it easy though - Michelle and I have been quite good this week having done Combat on Monday and Zumba yesterday. We are going to train with machines to build some muscles. No pain, no gain, right? So we will do our best today too!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Andy's Cheesecake and Birthday Dinner

The second birthday in the family in November, in less than a week since Dad's birthday. I figured that my family and B must be sick and tired of sponge cakes by now, so instead I made a cheesecake for my brother's quarter-century birthday. And the card I got him has a mouse on it (well, he is a mouse in the Chinese Zodiac) that reads "Cut the cake but not the cheese!" - so we were gonna give him the dilemma of a cheese-cake.

Moose in the Kitchen: Japanese-Style Light Cheesecake

This is a recipe from Eupho Café that was published a while ago in a weekly "Gourmet Supplement" by the Canadian version of Ming Pao (明報). Dad has been bugging me about making cakes that would suit our family's taste - which is quite different from the Western-Style cakes like the ones you would find in the local supermarkets or bakeries. Western-Style cakes are almost always too sweet and too heavy for their taste. In fact, Dad would wince at the sight of a cake box from any non-Chinese bakery.

Anyway, this recipe is substantially different from the regular cheesecake recipes - more eggs, less cream cheese, much less sugar. But the most unusual part of it all is the way the batter is made - the eggs are separated and the whites are beaten to soft peaks to be folded into the rest of it being baking in a bain marie. The top is browned to a nice golden color at high heat for 20 minutes and then the heat is reduced to continue cooking for another 40. The resulting cheesecake has a subtle cheese flavor, but is so fluffy and light that even my parents were reaching for a second serving. And I have achieved the unimaginable - Dad actually suggested that I put in just a teeny tiny tad more sugar next time around. Which NEVER happens because he finds everything I make too sweet.

I had extra batter so I made 2 mini star-shaped ones on the side - but these weren't tall enough to avoid being submerged in the bain marie, so like soufflés they collapsed when they came out of the oven. I intended them for Michelle, but we devoured them over the weekend so she will have to wait until I make them again.

Moose Reviews: Tako Sushu Japanese Restaurant

For my brother's birthday dinner we settled on Tako for teppanyaki, because Japanese food is always a crowd-pleaser and that place is close to where he worked. For $19.95 per person (plus tax and tip) we feasted on green salad, sushi, lobster sashimi, mussels in sake broth, grilled scallops-in-shells, grilled lobster, steak, lamb, grilled veggies, fried rice and dessert. And we got to enjoy watching the chef doing his tricks while he prepared them on the griddle right in front of us.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dosa, anyone?

Moose Reviews: Guru Lukshmi
Claiming "your search for a good dosa ends here", Guru Lukshmi lived up to its expectation. I have heard rave reviews from my colleagues since the beginning of the year about how good the food is, but haven't had a chance to try because this restaurant only opened in the evening during the week. Well, that changed recently and Guru Lukshmi is now offering lunch from 11:30 am to 3 pm. We sat a date for all of us to go, but in the end only 4 of us made it. But that's OK, because it states on its on-line menu that a 15% gratuity will be charged for groups of 6 or more.

The interior was pleasant - I was somewhat worried about it seeing how Dosa Corner, its former incarnation at Newin Centre on Hwy. 10 and Dundas, had looked like. Dark wooden tables play off nicely against the stone walls and the asymmetric layout of the booths kept things interesting. It is a small restaurant and reservation is highly recommended. Through narrow and crowded aisles we were lead to a booth in a cozy corner. Most part of the menu was devoted to dosa, of course, but there were other appetiziers and rice dishes offered as well. There is also a thali available for $9.50 - which is not bad of a deal judging from the size of it on a few tables over. We were offered water in stainless steel "glasses", which apparently is how they do it in India because my colleague gave a nod of approval for the authenticity of the restaurant.

I was opting for a paper dosa, which I have heard so much about, but my dear colleague advised me to try something with a filling because the paper dosa does not come with anything except for chutneys. She recommended a Pav Bhaji Dosa ($9.50), which is filled with mixed vegetable, and 3 of us ordered that. Another colleague had the Mysore Bhaji Dosa marked with 2 chilis on the menu. Luckily the restaurant offers their food at different spice levels: mild, medium, spicy or extra spicy. I stuck with the mild option, and even the waitress stopped my colleague from ordering a spicy and insisted on medium instead because their food "is much spicier than other restaurants."

The food did not arrive for at least 10 minutes, but they have already put warnings everywhere about the wait - "We do not give you pre-cooked food." It's understandable, because dosa is only good when it is hot and fresh. They looked amazing though, and tasted even better. The humongous crepe almost overflowed from the tray and was served alongside a small bowl of sambar with a green chutney (coriander and coconut), an orange chutney (not sure what it is but it was sweet and tart - kind of like ketchup) and a white coconut chutney. The food was quite spicy - my colleague was glad she followed the waitress' advice.

I finished the whole serving except for the sambar because I am not a big fan of lentils and it is probably an acquired taste. The chutneys definitely helped to kill some of the heat - otherwise it would have been too spicy for me. I must have had at least 4 glasses of water because I was feeling so bloated when we left. Service was not quite quick enough but forgiveable because it was so busy. They weren't unwilling when my colleagues asked for extra sambar nor when I asked for water for the 5th time. Payment is made at the cashier which seemed to always have a line-up, and gratuity is already included. The only thing I have to complain about is the burning sensation in my stomach now - not a problem at all in this chilly weather.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Déjà vu?

Oui, I am at the reception again today. Not very exciting, today being Remembrance Day so there was no mail to sort and I have not had a single visitor yet. Which is good, because then I can concentrate on my stuff.

We had so much fun last night, Michelle and I, doing Zumba and shopping after. Our Zumba instructor Jewel rocked (like always) and I just loved the music. She pulls off the moves with such ease and style but I always feel like when I try the same moves it must look weird and awkwardly funny. (Think Night at the Roxbury funny.) Towards the end of the class she divided us into two groups and had a street-style dance-off - totally hilarious and absolutely the most outrageous but fun thing I've done in a long time. The only thing I have to quip about is these two ladies who barged in right in front of us after class has started, blocking the view so I had no clue what Jewel was doing up there at the stage, and kept moving back onto us regardless of which direction we were supposed to be moving to. Several times I almost got stepped onto and and made me want to ask them to move up front or switch places. I understand the studio is small and it does get crowded, and I respect that we are all there for a good time and the more the merrier, but what these ladies were doing were just not considerate nor tactful. But otherwise, the class was great and we had a good workout.

After washing up Michelle and I went shopping for a bit - Sears had a Gala with live Christmas music and Pink by Victoria's Secret has opened, and there was a nice promo at La Senza where you get $10 off of a $50 purchase. The lace and frills were nice, but I managed to control myself from buying any because I had just picked up some from the Triumph warehouse sale. Showed my new leather jacket to my bro and now I'm having second thoughts - I really should have picked up something black or brown, and something more fitted. I think I am going to bring this one back and find something more in line with how I had envisioned it to be.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

réceptionniste du jour...encore une fois

Work has been crazily busy lately and I have been running around a lot to get things done. My side project has been put on the back burner and the documents are piling up. I am seriously concerned about the possibility of the tray just collapsing and burying me in the pile of things to file away. To top it off, I get to cover the reception today since the receptionist is away today and the other backup has work chained to her desk (whereas the most part of my job only requires the computer so it doesn't really matter where they station me). So with my big pile of stuff I settled into the little cubicle, hoping to get some work done in between phone calls and visitors. Of course it wouldn't be easy as that, because somehow, things always come all at once - when the phone rings, people would start walking in, or vice versa. Just this morning I had a full house - 4 different groups of visitors coming in at once looking for different people while the phone was ringing off the hook. The 2 armchairs were quickly occupied and the others had to resort to standing in an area just about 6 feet wide x 10 feet long. There was practically no room for them to even turn around, that's how crowded it was. I was bombarded and getting really frazzled, but managed to handle them all. The afternoon was better - things have died down a bit and I get to have the whole reception area to myself - with a nice outside view and no chatter (which is mostly irrelevant and repetitive) or other distraction. I often feel that I am so much more productive when I sit here. Plus I get to talk to people, rather than just facing the computer the whole day. I think it's a nice break once in a while. It's just that it's been so busy lately that I wonder how long it will take for me to catch up to speed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

a very happy weekend with B

On Sunday we had planned to make a trip to adopt a moose from Build-a-Bear at Square One after a stroll in the park, but on the spur of the moment we decided that we would go uptown since I haven't been in Markham for a long while and B's mom hasn't seen him for a few days - since Thursday, to be exact. It was only fair that we spend some time with her too. We were going to have some wanton noodles but saw a huge Golftown demo sale sign in passing, so we turned into First Markam Place - another change of plans. My craving for wanton will have to wait until next time.

We stopped by Peninsula Cafe (also at FMP) for a really late lunch. "Trendy Hut" would have been a more appropriate translation of its Chinese namem, but this cafe apparently is operated by the same group as that of Peninsula Cafe (Kennedy and 16th ave.??) and they were probably too lazy to come up with a different English name. The sign boasts the restaurant as a fusion of tastes frin Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. At 2:30 pm the small restuarant was still busy with most tables occupied, but we didn't have to wait to be seated. The green interior is quite trendy and comfy too - with big round cushioned seats around round tables in the middle aisle and roomy booths on either side. The 2 LCD TV's mounted in opposite corners had FairChild TV on, and they weren't loud enough to distract us from chatting. Lunch specials were offered until 3 pm and Afternoon Tea specials were offered from 2:30pm onwards, so we had quite a bit to choose from. After studying the colorful picture-studded menu for a while, we decided on a taiwanese-style fried rice with BBQ-eel and eggs and a tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) served with omu-rice (which is like an omelet filled with fried rice). Each of our dish came with a choice of iced or hot tea or coffee, and both of us ordered iced lemon tea. The service is friendly and the food arrives reasonably quick. The iced tea was just right - not overly sweet nor overly tart. The presentation of our dishes were definitely cute, but their tastes disappointed. The fried rice with BBQ-eel and egg arrived first and I was surprised by the small serving size that's atypical of Chinese cafe (茶餐廳). And the taste was mediocre - the fried rice was quite moist and there were plenty of bits and pieces of BBQ-eel. Yet I can't shake the feeling that something's missing - maybe a topping of nori (seaweed), sesame seed and more BBQ sauce would have helped. The tonkatsu was good - hot and crispy and juicy - but we have had better. The omu-rice looked great but the fried rice filling was bland - it was a moist lump of rice flavored with ketchup and not much else. I will definitely order tonkatsu again, but probably not with the omu-rice. Prices are definitely affordable but not cheap compared to other Chinese cafes. There are several other items on the menu that looked interesting, so if this restaurant is still around maybe we will go again.

After lunch we wandered over to Danier at Woodside Square and ended up spending the afternoon in that store (against B's will) - there was a promo of additional 20% off the lowest ticketed price. Lots of fashionable styles and slashed prices on leather jackets and handbags meant I had a tough decision time. But I have been wanting a leather jacket for over a year now, and it was a good deal, so despite my diminished budget this month (due to the 3 birthdays in the family) I bought myself my first leather jacket. I was aiming for black or brown - something classic that will last years and still won't look out of fashion, but the only thing that caught my eyes was this white bomber. B had a long face and really wanted to sit down rather than going through the racks with me, but he still gave advices and suggestions that were useful. It's quite a bit of money, but I think this is a smart investment - a leather jacket can be dressed up or down and fits pretty much every informal ocassion. I can't wait to show it off!

We had dinner at home with his mom, who made a pot of wonderful soup. (I LOVE soup. I can have soup and only soup everyday and I don't ever get sick of it.) We watched a movie in the evening before he dropped me home, when we realized that we had forgotten about picking up moose. Nevertheless, we had a really good time and I'm so happy and thankful that we're together. :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sponge Cake Attempt # 2

phew, that was a long post yesterday. As B was saying when I showed him my new blog for the first time, "WHO WOULD READ IT???" Eh, wth, I will write what I want regardless, even if no one will read what I write.

Yesterday we had hot pot to celebrate Dad's birthday (that was my birthday present for him), and we got too full and too sleepy (after all that food and wine) to bake. So this afternoon I had a chance to make another attempt at sponge cake after we came home from lunch. This time around, I made sure the temperature of the oven started and stayed at 350 degrees F as specified by the recipe. But other things had gone wrong: the cake still came out dense and moist - in fact, it's worse than what it was like the first time around. When I took at peek at it (with the oven light of course, because opening the oven door is a definite no-no) the cake looked gorgeous - it rose beautifully. But when I took it out of the oven, the cake has collapsed to half of what it was! And we didn't allow it to cool properly today neither, because B was too eager to eat and couldn't wait until it has properly cooled. Not that it would have made a big difference, because the non-stick pan worked too well again this time and the cake slid right off and landed on its top once I flipped it upside down to cool. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that two of the eggs didn't separate properly so only 8 of the egg whites went in for the beating, instead of the total of 10. And since I had exhausted the egg supply in my fridge with the last attempt we bought more eggs - but these ones were "extra large", rather than just "large", so the proportion of liquids/fats in the batter may have been altered. Now it seems like attempt # 3 is inevitable, and it's just a matter of when B and my family is going to be sick of eating sponge cake.

On a side note, B has complained that I have wrote nothing positive about him in my blog, so here we go: I love you B!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

various reviews and sponge cake attempt #1

Moose Reviews: Eddit's Wok n' Roll

So yesterday some of us had forgotten to bring lunch and decided to go to Eddie's Wok n' Roll on Millcreek. I was hesistant, having had take-out from there that was somewhat disappointing (the butter chicken tasted like nothing I have had at other more authentic Indian restaurants and the look of the manchurian chicken was greasy enough to turn my stomach). But my dear colleague absolutely adores Eddie's and would have it any day of the week. So when she heard I was feeling like something hot and soupy she thought Eddie's is THE place to go, even though I was craving for something more like phở.

To be honest, when we first walked in, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually looked decent - dimmed lighting, nice big foutain in the waiting area, pretty decorations - it wasn't even half as run-down and dirty as I thought it would be, plus the place was packed. The Lunch Specials menu was very reasonably-priced - starting at $7.50 + tax & tips you get a soup (hot & sour or corn), a mini spring roll and a heaping plate of an entrée. The service was amicable but the waiters all seemed to be in too much of a hurry to hear out any special requests. Nothing on the Lunch Specials menu appealed to me since they were all rice or fried noodles dishes, so I ordered a Tom Yum soup on the regular menu to satisfy my craving for something hot and soupy.

The food arrived real quick, which was great; and piping hot too, which was also great. Alarmingly, the chili chicken adn the manchurian chicken looked exactly the same - an unappetizing dark bown sauce loaded with garlic and big chucks of red hot chili peppers. My colleagues tried to convince me that those two dishes are "so good" and that I should give them a try, but to me these just don't cut it as authentic Chinese food and I'd rather fast than to take one bite of them. The butter chicken another colleague ordered didn't live up to her expectation neither.

My Tom Yum soup arrived last, probably because the restaurant did not anticipate somebody ordering outside of the Lunch Specials Menu. The soup did not come with anything on the side, which I guess is typical in a Chinese restaurant. and it did not come like how I imagined it to be. The color was not as intense as I thought it would be, having had Tom Yum soup at several other Thai restaurants before, and there was no sight (nor smell nor taste) of lemon grass - one ingredient that MAKES the soup. The soup wasn't that good of a deal - for close to $5 (and that's not including tax and tips) it was a 4" rice-bowl full of tofu, with several small pieces of chicken and 2 small, very sad-looking shrimps. The taste wasn't offensive, but nowhere was it close to being impressiong - it's just not what I would consider a good Tom Yum soup.

I would probably go back again since it's only 5 minutes from work, much cheaper than JJ ($10+) and my colleagues think that it's the best "Chinese" food. And maybe next time I should just stick with a lunch special, regardless of how unappealing the dishes sound.

Moose Reviews: KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer

Since it is my Dad's birthday today, Mom decided to make a special dinner for him last night to kick off the celebrations. We had really nice angus roasted beef (yum!) and tri-color three cheese ravioli in a tomato sauce (yum!!), and of course my dad's favorite: pâté. And post-dinner we had a sponge cake that was made using a KitchenAid Professional HD Stand Mixer and Wilton Excellence Non-stick Angel Food Cake Pan in our new oven.

The KichenAid Stand Mixer belongs to a good friend of my mom who is currently in Hong Kong - it went on sale at Costco's while she was in HK, so she asked Mom to pick it up and asked me to test it out for her. So finally there was an occasion and Dad has been talking about sponge cakes so we thought the perfect test project would be it - a sponge cake! The Stand Mixer came in a humongous cardboard box (over my knees and twice as wide as me) and it took awhile to actually take it out of the box. There were several gadgets I had to pull out before I got to the mixer itself - there were an instruction & recipes booklet, an accessory attachments list, a set of 4 measuring/prepping bowls with lids, a digital timer, a dough hook, a wire-whisk and a beater blade. Then it took some more time to set it up and figure out how to fit everything together. And it was BEAUTIFUL! The unit looks gorgeous with its sleek black and silver design. The stainless steel bowl has a rounded bottom - a big plus because I'm so sick of having to scrape the corners in my old mixer's flat bottom bowl. The mixer offers 10 speeds but speed 8 was sufficient for beating egg whites. And all it took was 3 minutes to beat my egg whites stiff and dry - without having sore arms!

The mixer was relatively quiet and very easy to operate. The only thing I can complain about is it got messy when I had to sift the flour mixture onto the batter in several separate additions and the flour got everywhere except into the mixing bowl. It was hideous to have to stop the mixer, lower the bowl, lift the bowl out of the support and ease it out away from the stand so as to have enough space to put in the flour and then remount the bowl, lift it up into place and start the mixing again. But I'm sure that can be remedied by using the pour guard (which you can purchase as an accessory) or simply sifting the flour first and just add it to the batter again (I should have thought of doing that, but then I was following the recipe to the letter...). I also had to catch my recipe a few times because it was blown off the countertop by a mysterious gust of wind when I started the unit. But all in all, I loved it. What usually takes me almost an hour was done in less than half that time. I seriously think the KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer is an indispensible part of the kitchen. My kitchen. And I can forsee me having a hard time parting with it when my mom's friend comes to take it back.

The sponge cake was supposed to go into the oven at 350 degrees F, however, by turning on the convection option our new oven has decided to lower the temperature by 25 degrees - so after the cooking time was up the cake looked beautifully golden but was still a little wet on the inside. I returned the cake into the oven for another 10 minutes and increased the temperature by 25 degrees to the specified 350. The burnt the top a little but it was still brown and thank goodness, not black. And the inside was cooked through - nothing came back up with the skewer stick inserted near the center. So I took the cake out for cooling, as specified in the recipe, and the cake was supposed to be cooled upside down, for at least 4 hours. The Wilton non-stick angel food cake pan was perfect - it had 3 little feets that allowed the pan (along with the cake inside) to stand upside down. The only problem was, because it was a non-stick pan, the cake slid off the pan and came down and out while cake pan remained standing on its feets! So instead of letting it cool, we cut it right away and served it to Dad after singing 2 lines of "Happy Birthday" very quickly.

The flavour was awesome - and not too sweet either, just the way we like, and the texture of the inside of the cake was oh so light and soft - except for spots in the bottom where it's more dense and moist. That probably is a result of under-cooking (due to the lowered temperature) and insufficient cooling (which did not happen at all thanks to the non-stick pan working too well). The denser parts of the cake could be made spongier in texture by pulling and stretching, which was fun, and further proved that had the cake cooled properly, the cake would have turned out perfect. The "skin" of the cake - the layers at the top, the sides and the bottom - was just a little bit overdone and became too dry and chewy for my taste, but somehow Mom really enjoyed it, to the point of eating only that part and leaving the cloud-like middle for Dad and my brother. But then again, Mom has always had an affinity towards crusts - of breadloaves and pizza and so on, so we weren't surprised at all. Afterall, this is only the first attempt, and Dad has already requested another sponge cake to be done. So let's see what happens tonight!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

have you ever missed a dose of moose

I did. Twice, in fact, that I missed my dose of antibiotics yesterday. And then I remembered about all the times I've told patients at the pharmacy that antibiotics are supposed to be taken until finished even if they'd start to feel better because you wanna make sure all the bugs are killed off so they don't come back. I was really good with it the first few days, but when I started feeling better it wasn't a top priority anymore to wake up 2 hours early and stay awake for 2 more hours just so I can take the medication as scheduled. Nope, I fell asleep and skipped that dose, made sure I took it in the morning, then left the bottle at home so I had to miss the afternoon dose too.

So remembering my advise to patients and that antibiotic resistence is a real threat, I vowed to be be better today. So far, so good. Let's see what happens tonight!

Well, I am going to take it easy tonight - I've just about had enough today running here and there to get these documents done before the deadline. And I did go to Zumba yesterday- on my own, again - so it's not like I haven't had enough exercise. Maybe I'll go shopping. My dear coworker told me about a Triumph warehouse sale in Oakville this weekend and I'm a big fan. I mean, you can never have too many sexy lingerie, right?

Monday, November 2, 2009

time for a new blog

so I attempted to log onto my old geocities site today in hopes of finding an old recipe and some pictures, but alas, that site has been CLOSED DOWN!!

that just goes to show how often I updated my last blog. My last site was a cozy little place called the "CooKiE JaR", where I had posted some tried and true recipes (most of which were for various kinds of cookies) along with some pictures of some of the stuff I've cooked (or rather, baked) including all the birthday cakes I've done for my family up until I got too lazy to update.

Nonetheless, it's "out with the old and in with the new", and I'm no longer known as the cookie monster around here and now B has been affectionately calling me a moose, so I thought it would be appropriate to call my new blog something else: "ooh it's a moose!" Definitely smarter than the "CooKiE JaR: ReDux", right?

My hope is that this new blog will chronicle my ups and downs, my thoughts and my rants, and any other random things that may cross my mind. Mostly the downs because I'm usually too busy enjoying the moment when I'm up there, as B complained rightly that I only complained about him in my last blog. And probably a lot about food because that seems to be what I'm most passionate about, and sweet things to eat are thought of VERY often. So let's see how this one turns out!!

By the way...
This is me on Halloween.